Jurgen Klinsmann announced yesterday the 30-man preliminary World Cup roster for the United States men’s national team. If there’s a surprise on the squad, it’s the absence of Eddie Johnson, who scored four goals for the USMNT during qualifying, but has struggled on and off the field with DC United so far this season. Johnson’s absence means that this will be the third World Cup in a row where the USMNT doesn’t bring the player who scored the qualification-clinching goal.
In Johnson’s stead is Terrence Boyd, whose recent form for Rapid Vienna (20 goals in 38 games this season) has him in camp. Alternately, the surprise inclusion to the squad is Timothy Chandler, the Nurnburg defender who had previously been on the outs under Klinsmann. 18-year-old Julian Green also made the squad despite playing with Bayern Munich’s reserves in Germany’s fourth division.
Only 23 of the 30 players will ultimately make the trip to Brazil, and the US plays three friendlies over the next few weeks to narrow the squad down. As things currently stand, here’s who should be staying home next month.
Brad Davis – Houston Dynamo
Davis is a solid player, but the USMNT has a lot of depth in midfield. I don’t see what the Houston player really adds that others can’t do better. At 32, his age may very well work against him; Klinsmann has been given a contract through 2018, and clearly has an eye towards youth and the future.
Brad Evans – Seattle Sounders FC
Evans appeared in four matches for the national team last year, and his stoppage-time winner against Jamaica won’t soon be forgotten. Klinsmann has played him mostly at right back, and he is listed as a defender by US Soccer, but Evans plays midfield for the Sounders. There are a lot of candidates for the right back spot, and I don’t think Evans makes the cut.
Joe Corona – Club Tijuana
Some were surprised to see Corona make the 30-man roster; I’d be stunned if he makes the flight to Brazil. Another victim of the midfield glut, Corona has saw much of his time with the B team during last year’s Gold Cup. He’s only 23, though, and perhaps his fortunes will improve in time for Russia in 2018.
Maurice Edu – Philadelphia Union
I’m happy to see that Edu’s return to MLS and regular playing time has been accompanied by a call-in to the national team. But Klinsmann has shown a fondness for for Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman in the defensive-midfielder slot alongside Michael Bradley, and it’s hard to justify bringing Edu.
DeAndre Yedlin – Seattle Sounders FC
The 20-year-old Yedlin might be as well known for his hair as his defensive abilities. The irony is that while Yedlin plays right back in Seattle as opposed to Brad Evans, many have questioned his commitment to the defensive side of the ball. He had a dreadful game Sunday in New England. He’ll be better suited for 2018 than facing Cristiano Ronaldo in a month.
Julian Green – Bayern Munich II
This is little more than a guess, frankly. Few people have seen much of Green beyond the substitute appearance he made last month in a friendly against Mexico. I don’t know how good he is, but I’m inclined to think that at 18, having never played top flight soccer, he’s not quite ready for the World Cup.
Clarence Goodson – San Jose Earthquakes
This is between him and John Anthony Brooks. Where Michael Parkhurst and Timothy Chandler bring some versatility to the squad, both Goodson and Brooks are dead-set center backs. Klinsmann likes Brooks, not least because he was able to pry his services from Germany, and the youngster was recently player of the week in the Bundesliga. I don’t think either should be starting in Brazil, but of the two I’d take Brooks.
This leaves us with a 23-man squad that includes all seven “forwards” (a distinction that includes Landon Donovan) from the 30-man roster. If my predictions/wishes are correct, 10 of the final 23 players will be come from MLS clubs. Despite the cuts, that’s a significant improvement from 2010, when just four MLS players were seen as worthy of the big stage for the US. The federation has stated that the final squad will be announced after the June 1st friendly against Turkey at Red Bull Arena. Can’t wait.